Golden State Connect is actively implementing projects in rural California all aimed at increasing access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.

To achieve its goal, Golden State Connect is focused on (1) pursuing technical assistance and funding for rural member counties to help expand internet access within their jurisdictions and (2) directly deploying open-access, municipal internet in select rural communities.

Technical Assistance and Funding

Golden State Connect is assisting rural California counties in establishing foundational readiness for broadband deployment through the development of essential planning documents.

Economic Development Administration Grant

Using funding from the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), Golden State Finance Authority, an affiliate of Golden State Connect, was awarded $2.7 million in American Rescue Plan funding to assist rural California counties with establishing foundational plans that will help guide the expansion of high-speed internet. Specifically, the EDA grant is funding the development of broadband strategic plans for 26 rural member California counties and two Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), one for Colusa County and one for the combined counties of Alpine, Mono, and Inyo . Golden State Connect is currently partnering with those counties and assisting in the development of those plans.

Local Area Technical Assistance (LATA) grant

The Local Area Technical Assistance (LATA) grant provides up to $500,000 per applicant to fund pre-broadband deployment projects to help in expanding broadband services to unserved and underserved residents. Golden State Connect is working with 40 LATA grant awardees from 32 member counties and eight cities (within Golden State Connect member counties), to evaluate priority project areas, review financial feasibility, and ensure efficient and effective network design outcomes as system design work is completed.

Federal Fund Account/Last-Mile Program

In September of 2023, Golden State Connect submitted thirty-seven applications to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Federal Fund Account (FFA)/Last-Mile Program. These applications cover proposed broadband project areas in thirty-seven jurisdictions, including thirty Golden State Connect member counties and seven cities therein, aimed at increasing access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet in rural California. If awarded, these applications will serve as the foundational investment for Golden State Connect's deployment of an open-access, last mile municipal fiber network in rural California.

As of July 2024, the CPUC has announced grant award recommendations for Golden State Connect projects in Imperial County for $13.8 million and Alpine County for $6.9 million. Learn more about the Imperial County project award here and the Alpine County project award here.

For information about the CPUC's Federal Fund Account/Last-Mile Program and the applications submitted by Golden State Connect, read our frequently asked questions document here.

Internet Deployment

Open-Access Municipal Model

Golden State Connect is identifying project locations in rural California for the installation of fiber internet, beginning with select initial locations and then expanding to additional project areas. These projects will utilize an Open-Access municipal model, under which multiple internet service providers use the same publicly owned high-speed network to provide a range of services to homes and businesses, increasing competition for rural customers and bringing the price of connectivity down

To assist in administrating this effort, Golden State Connect has partnered with UTOPIA Fiber, an industry leader in the Open-Access municipal model and the operator of the largest Open-Access, municipal fiber network in the United States.

Implementation Projects

Golden State Connect is currently identifying and pursuing appropriate projects to install internet fiber utilizing an Open-Access municipal model. A rigorous analysis process was utilized to narrow down a list of potential project areas. Golden State Connect is now working with the local governments representing these areas to affirm interest and partnership as we work toward project deployment. Currently there are multiple potential project areas sites within rural California. At this time Golden State Connect is working with local governments representing initial project areas

We are pleased to announce that MOUs between GSCA and a member county have been executed with Alpine County and the South Salinas Valley Broadband Authority in Monterey County. Details on additional locations will be released following completion of site analysis and the establishment of local agreements. Golden State Connect will also provide further information to the public as the projects progress.

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